Catherine Cookson estate goes direct in e-book deal

Catherine Cookson's estate has signed a deal to release 100 of her novels as e-books directly through Amazon, cutting out her publishers Transworld and Simon & Schuster (in the US). The e-books went on sale on late last week priced at £3.99. The model is similar to that of the Ian Fleming estate, which cut out Penguin in order to release the James Bond books digitally—though in that case it did not make an exclusive arrangement with Amazon.

The Daily Mail reports the trust's literary agent Sonia Land will sell the e-books via her company Peach Publishing. The trust's literary agent, Sonia Land, has not informed Cookson's print publishers, Transworld Publishers and Simon & Schuster, about the release for fear of opposition. Though it is not clear if Transworld had ever sought the digital rights.

She told the newspaper: "I haven't told either firm about the deal and I am sure they are going to kick up a fuss about it. But at the end of the day, what can they say? They do not own the electronic publishing rights to the works. In recent years, they have shown little interest in marketing or exploiting the Cookson brand. It is a wake-up call for the industry."

In a press statement sent out by Amazon, Land added: "For a long time, Dame Catherine Cookson was the UK's most celebrated and successful novelist. Now, for the first time since her death in 1998, the vast majority of her titles will be available throughout the world."

Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, said: "Dame Catherine Cookson is one of the most popular British writers, and no doubt many American readers of mysteries or romantic thrillers are also familiar with her name."

A Transworld spokesman declined to comment on the deal, but added:  “We firmly believe that it is in the best interests of the book industry as a whole to keep physical and ebook rights together.”

Catherine Cookson is one of the most widely read authors in the United Kingdom with more than 14 million library lends during the past decade.